In Part One of this series I opened up the subject of Human Law by looking at several important points introduced in the first chapter of the Holy Bible. Since the Bible is the most reliable of all ancient texts, is the most celebrated of ancient texts, has the greatest endorsement and track record of any ancient text and is given full authority within the High Court of Australia, it is a worthy text to address in looking for the basis of human law.
In part two, I look at some other principles which spring from the first few chapters of Genesis. I have long had a high regard for the amount of significant points given to us in just a few chapters of the Bible. These key points undergird the rest of the Bible and our understanding of the whole of human history.
We have already seen that God spoke words which released power. God said, “Let there be light” and the immediate result was that light sprang forth. This ability to speak things into reality testifies to God’s supreme authority and jurisdiction (the right to speak over the entire universe).
Another principle which has significance in law is the power of words. Words and their meanings are a very important aspect of legal business. Definitions, word usage, distinctions of meaning, what is written, what was agreed to, and so on, take up much of the energies of those engage in law.
The Bible endorses the vital importance of words in many places, confirming the significance of referring to this reality in the third verse of the Bible. Consider these other verses.
“And I say to you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36,37
“He that rejects me, and receives not my sayings, has one that judges him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day.” John 12:48
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
“Take with you words, and return unto Jehovah: say to him, Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good: so will we render as bullocks the offering of our lips.” Hosea 14:2
Law and Words
Much of law is constructed by words and names, defining responsibilities and consequences contingent on the impact of those words. Yet words do not make up moral law. Divine law stands apart from the various laws which people create to serve the purposes of their own society, club or process. We see that distinction in the New Testament, where a Roman official dismisses the Jewish legal complaint as simply a matter of their own words, names and laws.
“But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, If indeed it were a matter of wrong or of wicked villany [here he refers to moral wrongdoing], O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if they are questions about words and names and your own law, look to it yourselves; I am not minded to be a judge of these matters. And he drove them from the judgment-seat.” Acts 18:14-16
We saw previously that God gave man dominion, which prescribed a specific place for man. The dominion mandate of Genesis 1:26-28 reveals that positions are God given. God, who is sovereign over all, ascribes to people their place in His created realm.
This ability to assign roles to people is important in terms of human law, because rulers and others who gain authority have the power to make and enforce laws. The validity of their role directly impacts their right to make and enforce laws and the obligation of others to work with or under those laws.
In the second chapter of the Bible, Genesis 2, we see another principle of law at work. God imposes moral law onto mankind.
God created a beautiful resort garden for the man to live in. Only the best trees were planted there. Also planted there were two trees of great power. One of those trees, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, was banned from man. The man was commanded not to eat of that tree or he would die.
“And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16,17
Mankind was not simply given life by God. Man is under command. We are not the free agents which some people want to believe they are. We are accountable to God for our actions. God has prescribed behaviour for us. We cannot do as we please.
Note too, that God’s authority over us places us under moral law. This is not natural law (discussed in part one), but a moral obligation which is independent of the natural considerations. God is a moral being. Man is made in his image, so man is a moral being. God reserves the right, as creator and supreme sovereign, to hold man accountable to moral requirements.
A further legal principle evident here is that superiors have the right to make demands of subordinates. God did not need man’s permission to make demands of man. God is the superior and his right to make demands is simply part of his jurisdiction. The same principle is true for all who have been given authority by God. Note that God is not superior by brute strength. God is the primary cause of man’s existence and is of a nature vastly superior to man’s being. This is not survival of the fittest, but moral order, based on God’s being and His role in the creation of man.
Note too that rules are a normal part of life. Existence is designed to operate within constraints, rules, moral order and due process. It is not truly possible to live outside of rules and regulation. The very nature itself is regulated and operates according to laws which man has been able to identify, such as gravity.
We must all submit to a range of constraints. We cannot live outside of those constraints – or we would simply float out into space, un-bound by gravity.
However, people seek opportunity to do as they please. This is one of the urges in selfish human nature. We see in history that there were occasions where people did what they pleased.
“You shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes” Deuteronomy 12:8
This may seem a positive situation for those who seek self-will, but we are warned that the consequence of such choices is evil.
“There is a way which seems right to a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12
Submission is part of the human condition, but it is something which mankind wishes to pull against – not just against divine authority, but against natural authorities and responsibilities as well.
Actions lead to consequences, both natural and moral. God warned Adam about the consequences which attended eating of the forbidden fruit.
Actions are not in our own power. We cannot dictate the outcome of our deeds. We cannot make a bad outcome good. We cannot turn off the consequences.
This is why moral choices are so very serious. Wrong moral choices create consequences which cannot be removed. Great devastation has come upon people throughout human history because of wrong moral choices leading to nasty consequences.
In today’s western culture where people have been blinded to the concept of consequences there are many who are stunned by the fruit of their foolish and ignorant selfishness. They have been lied to by humanist philosophy which ignores moral accountability and consequences. Thus they are completely shocked by the results which they did not want and cannot reverse.
Yet More to Come
All of what has been discussed so far is simply putting in place the principles and moving parts which make up our legal landscape. Yet there is more to be put on the table, so part three will open up yet more new principles and elements that need to be understood.
To read the first post in this series on Human Law go to: http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/human-law-1
For further reading on the Right To Speak go to: http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/the-right-to-speak